When Hellraiser arrived on screens back in 1987 it was a shot in the arm for British horror. Leaving the campiness of Hammer horror far behind in a bloodied trail of gore. At its centre was a mystical puzzle box that summons from the depths of Hell a hideous dead eyed Gorgan in not dissimilar a manner to Amanda Holden’s alarm clock. The film gave horror a new icon with Pinhead played then by Doug Bradley who headed up a cast of demonic Cenobites out to reclaim human souls with victims ripped apart by hooks on chains. It success bought the inevitable sequel. And another sequel. And another sequel. And another sequel…..frankly there are so many sequels that its difficult to keep track of them all and its little wonder that Clive Barker wanted to take the franchise back under his wing. So sequel number 5,706 is Hellraiser Judgment written and directed by Gary J Tunnicliffe a make-up effects artist with a prodigious amount of horror credits to his name.
Hellraiser Judgment has Pinhead and a Cenobite sidekick called The Auditor (played by the director) going after the souls of those with horrifying secrets of their own and in a lengthy opening sequence we have a paedophile drawn to a derelict house where his crimes are audited , assessed for a jury of three topless and disfigured women before he’s butchered. It’s an uneasy sequence but well photographed looking like an even more hellish Heironymous Bosch painting. But his mutilated remains are just one of a series of brutal murders apparently carried out by a serial killer called The Preceptor that cops Sean and David Carter (Damon Carney & Randy Wayne) are investigating and are joined by another detective Christine Egerton (Alexandra Harris) with all the deaths appearing to have theological connotations. To that end we have The 10 Commandments thrown in as well as biblical quotes and literary references to Charles Dickens, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.
Tunnicliffe with his background in horror effects certainly has an eye for the horrific but this plays like a thriller bookended by Pinhead appearing and has a plot that struggles to fill its brief 75 minute running time even with an end credit sequence which hints at a further sequel. Tunnicliffe as the Auditor wears shades and a head full of bloodied lacerations that suggest he should have taken his Ray-bans off before shaving and he’s a slightly camp Cenobite compared to what we’ve seen before in the franchise. And as a nod to other figures in the horror cannon we have a brief appearance of Heather Langenkamp (and we do mean brief with her in a scene which is barely a minute long whilst under heavy make-up making her barely recognisable) and there’s also Feast franchise director John Gulager in a role as The Assessor , a character that literally eats his own words before vomiting them up – yes, it’s that kind of film.
Hellraiser Judgment is a sparse disc with just a gag reel (which like so many gag reels has clips which were probably funny at the time for the crew) and some deleted / extended scenes. A featurette on the make-up effects would have an obvious and interesting addition. Made back in 2018 and aspiring to be ‘Seven with Cenobites’ but instead Hellraiser Judgment is firmly straight to DVD fare.
Here’s the Hellraiser Judgment trailer……
Hellraiser: Judgment is on Digital Download 22 February & Blu-ray/DVD 1st March 2021 from Lionsgate UK